Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The History Center in 2001


While  the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit is in Lawrence County, I challenged the researchers and myself to come up with blogs for each day that were water related...This one may be a stretch, but it does show sort of a before and after type of sequence.  These are photos from the Heritage National Bank Building when it was given to the Lawrence County Historical Society fifteen years ago in 2001.Needless to say it doesn't look anything like that now with all the new Water related  exhibits...






We are selling tickets for the Water/Ways  bus tour through flood-prone Allison Prairie, the former George Field Army Air base, Lake Lawrence, the crossing where Abe Lincoln first came into Illinois, and past an eagle's nest.  Cost is $10, seating is limited. Tickets may be purchased at the History Center.  The tour is on Saturday, October 1 with maybe two tours; one at 10:00 am and one at noon. The one at 12:00 will be cancelled if we don't get enough riders.  So if you really want to go, get your friends to sign up.What are you ‘wading’ for…sign up now!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Flood of 1943 and Arthur Akin


Both of these photos were taken of the Arthur Akin Home and the road going to it during the 1943 Flood. Isn't the color great on these old slides?

Have you heard the interviews of local residents, including Janet Akin Faro that the High School students took as part of the Smithsonian project?   Stop by the theater in the History Center to hear these first hand stories of the floods in Lawrence County.   Schedule a group tour if you haven't done so already, or come in on a weekend.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Swenson and King-- Steamboats on the Wabash

Don't forget our program Monday night Sept 26.  

The Lawrence County Historical Society is pleased to present Steamboats on the Wabash by Robert Swenson and John King,  September 26 at 7 PM at the Lawrence public library.

On May 10, 1823 the first steamboat arrived in Vincennes; 13 years later as many as 800 steamboats had docked at the city according to an early Vincennes newspaper.  The same steamboats would have stopped at Lawrence County river towns such as St. Francisville, Belgrade Landing and Russellville.

Robert Swenson, a retired professor in the school of architecture at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, has done extensive research on southeastern Illinois steamboat heritage. John King, local historian and member of the Lawrence County Historical Society, has focused his research on the steamboats that plied the Wabash. Working together Swenson and King have prepared a program to delight local audiences.


The Western Sun and Gen. Advertiser Vincennes January 3, 1835 
1835 Humor...not so different from today....

“Pull out that white hair,” said one lady to another.
“If I do, ten will come to the funeral,” said the other.

“No matter if they come in black.”

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Town That Had No Water June 13, 1913.

 Many of you have visited the History Center and seen the exhibit about what happens to a town that has no water.  Of the three photos below, we had the middle one  of Dr. Lewis' house in Bridgeport.  One of our readers out West, sent us the before and after photos of the fire that occurred on Friday the 13, June 1913. .
Dr Lewis house in Bridgeport before the fire Friday June 13, 1913


Dr Lewis house in Bridgeport during the fire Friday June 13, 1913



Dr Lewis house in Bridgeport after the fire Friday June 13, 1913


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Russellville and the Flood of 1904

Have you been into the History Center to see the flood wall display?   John King with the help of Flossie Price and Kevin Borden did  all that research and his wife Nancy created the giant bar graph to explain flooding in Lawrence County. 

Vincennes Commercial April 2, 1904

Russellville which has been isolated from the world for several days, because of the flood which has surrounded the little town, and because of the fact that the telephone wires and poles are down, was heard from Friday morning, and while there has been no fatalities as a result of the flood, yet the condition of the three or 400 people hemmed in by water at that point is growing decidedly serious.

The food supply of the town is almost entirely exhausted and unless supplies are taken to them soon, much suffering will result. Realizing the situation two Russellville man John Hill and Allen Callender, volunteered to make the trip to the city in a skiff and arrange for taking a steamboat load of supplies to the besieged town. They set out at 6 AM Friday morning arriving two hours later, and they immediately set about securing a large supply of flour, meats, canned goods, potatoes and the like, after which they made arrangements for the goods to be taken to Russellville by the steamer Belmont. At one o'clock in the afternoon the two men set out in their boat for the long hard pull back to Russellville.

To Mr. Trombley, the grocery, the men stated that at Russellville store, when they left Friday morning, there were but four sacks of flour left  and orders had been placed for these. They also spoke of the break in the Belgrade levee, which they passed on the way to the Vincennes saying that it was located between the Coughran and the Wathen farm, about 8 miles above the city, about 300 yards of the levee had been washed out and the water was still pouring through the opening. They reported that the home of JJ James built on a mound was the only house along the river that was not flooded. Seven or 8 families are occupying ii at present.

The steamer Belmont, with a large load of provisions, will get away for Russellville at the earliest opportunity, but it may be Monday before they can make the trip.

The B&O railroad has been fighting hard to save their embankments in Lawrence County and with liberal use of sandbags and constant track walking have so far succeeded. The water however, has made deep inroads on the road bed which will necessitate expensive repairs after the floods of sides.

The Big Four cannot run trains between St. Francisville and Lawrenceville as the track is washed out a quarter of a mile from the Embarras overflow. Favorable indications existed Friday at St. Francisville, where up to 6 PM the Wabash River had fallen one fourth of an inch.

The situation throughout Lawrence County, while somewhat better than yesterday, is still serious. To those who are water bound and on the second floor of their homes the confinement is beginning to tell upon them and numerous appeals are being made for rescuers. Editor Maxwell, who has been foremost in the work of rescuing the people and  stock, was out all day today and succeeded in rescuing the family of William Webb and a part of the livestock of Jessie Mathias. At the latter place four more horses are confined in the dwelling. Tomorrow the women at Sam McCleaves will be taken out. Mr. Maxwell reports that the situation in the flooded territory is decidedly desperate. The water bound people are becoming discouraged and he thinks that an effort ought to be made by Vincennes people to get some of the people and stock out with the aid of a raft and some of the gasoline launches at Vincennes.


Several thousand sacks were shipped to St. Francisville Wednesday from Vincennes and points along the Cairo division to be used in sandbagging the railroad track between St. Francisville and Vincennes, which of the water continues to rise, shows signs of washing out. The sand will be secured at St. Francisville. As this is the only way the Cairo division can get from St. Francisville to Lawrenceville every effort is being made to save the track.

The Lawrence County Historical Society is pleased to present Steamboats on the Wabash by Robert Swenson and John King September 26 at 7 PM at the Lawrence public library. Admission is free. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bridgeport and Sumner Depots on Fire 1886

The residents of Bridgeport thought this fire was bad until Friday the 13, June 1913...when the whole town was almost in flames.  Stop by the History Center to see those photographs. 

Jackson County Indiana  Banner July 15, 1886
Depot Destroyed by Lightning


This morning at Bridgeport, Illinois, during a thunderstorm, lightning set fire to the O & M, depot by running in on the wires. The building and contents were entirely consumed. Loss was not learned. At Sumner, Illinois, the company’s depot was set on fire by the same cause, but was discovered in time to save the property.

The Lawrence County Historical Society is pleased to present Steamboats on the Wabash by Robert Swenson and John King September 26 at 7 PM at the Lawrence public library. Admission is free. 

There are a few seats left on the bus tour...make your reservations now.  Call 618-943-4317 for more information.   

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Swimsuits Oh My!

The History Center receives albums of family photos-- some of which are named and some are not.  We love looking at a moment in someone's life when a memory was captured on film.  We hope you will too.  These are some swimsuit photos we found.



Posey (b 1877)and Joan Clark ( b 1891) Fisher 


The Lawrence County Historical Society is pleased to present Steamboats on the Wabash by Robert Swenson and John King September 26 at 7 PM at the Lawrence public library. Admission is free.